Up (Movie Review)

Asian Americans in animations

bigWOWO Rating: Asian American Gold

Everyone needs to see “Up.”  I know lots of parents and non-parents, and before seeing this movie, I had heard that it was the greatest movie EVER.  It’s definitely up there.  The animated Asian American co-star makes the movie relevant to this blog (although perhaps it might still be relevant when I blog about parenting).  Created by Disney’s Pixar, this movie just about makes up for Disney’s Miley Cyrus problem!

The story begins with a young boy named Carl Fredericksen during the 1930’s who finds inspiration in an explorer named Charles Muntz.  Carl meets a young girl named Ellie who shares a similar love of exploring, and they form an explorers club between the two of them.  Ellie tells Carl of her wish to see Paradise Falls, a natural waterfall in Venezuela, and she makes him promise that they will someday go there together.  Carl and Ellie fall in love, get married, and begin to save money to take the trip.  Costs and obligations get in the way, and though they have a happy life together, time passes them by.  Ellie eventually passes away without ever having taken the trip, and Carl is alone.

If you read other reviews, almost all will talk about how the filmmakers manage to tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s marriage, life together, and Ellie’s passing with a four minute vignette of scenes and symbolism.  It’s a work of genius.  Fifteen minutes into the movie, and I was almost bawling at the way in which they told this part of the story.  You could pay full admission to see just this one scene, and the price of the movie would be worth it.

Fast forward to the present times, and Carl now lives alone in his house, which is getting in the way of the neighborhood business development.  The developers are pressuring him to sell, but he refuses.  One day, he assaults a construction worker who has knocked over his mailbox, and the court orders Carl to a retirement center.  Instead of going quietly, Carl, who was by trade a balloon salesman, inflates a whole bunch of balloons that lift his house into the air and bring him towards Paradise Falls where he and Ellie had always wanted to go.  Russell, a young Asian American boy scout (voiced by Jordan Nagai) who is trying to get a citation for helping the elderly, happens to be on Carl’s porch when the house takes off.  The ensuing story is about their adventure as a lonely old man and young boy with an absent father become friends.

In many ways, the story was like the Karate Kid with the racial makeup in reverse–a lonely older man becomes a mentor, and a young boy finds a father figure.  I loved the Karate Kid, and I loved Up.  Like the Karate Kid, the story was in many ways molded by the older mentor, whose world view and experience become the anchors behind the relationship.  Carl learns to love again, and Russell finds a father figure.  The character of Russell was particularly interesting in that they focus on an Asian American boy who comes from a broken family.  Asian American model minority type families are cool too, but there are other stories that people ought to see and hear.  Audiences of Up saw and heard it.

I highly, highly recommend this movie. I was impressed by how much the filmmakers were able to say in such a short period of time.  It’s a beautiful story that you’ll want to see over and over.

6 thoughts on “Up (Movie Review)

  1. If you read other reviews, almost all will talk about how the filmmakers manage to tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s marriage, life together, and Ellie’s passing with a four minute vignette of scenes and symbolism. It’s a work of genius. Fifteen minutes into the movie, and I was almost bawling at the way in which they told this part of the story. You could pay full admission to see just this one scene, and the price of the movie would be worth it.

    You weren’t the only one. Those four minutes pack a lot of emotion. Plus, it’s easy to put yourself in those shoes too when you have a better half you love!

  2. I agree. The AA main character was a pleasant surprise. And of course everything else was magic. Pixar has the formula. I can smell it outside my window (they’re based in Emeryville across the street from me).

  3. Isn’t amazing when a great story that is expertly told (by the great team of Pixar) how diversity is displayed without having it thrown in your face.

    Congrats (again) to the very talented people at Pixar and Jordan!

  4. Everyone I know says Hubby and that little kid look a lot alike. As his wife, I have to say yes, I definitely see the resemblance.

    And Nottyboy is right. That vignette really hits home for any man with a woman in his life that he passionately, zealously, urgently loves.

  5. What a great vignette!

    I had to think about why I liked it so much. I think that most “love,” as it’s portrayed in the media, whether literary or broadcast, deals with young, passionate “love.” (I put love in quotes because who knows how long that s**t’s gonna remain after you turn the last page or see the closing credits.) That vignette shows the longer love, the idea of growing old together and dealing with the mundane–fixing broken tires, working, cleaning the house. You really don’t see too much of this portrayed in the media, even in literary fiction.

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